You web browser may not be properly supported. To use this site and all its features we recommend using the latest versions of Chrome, Safari or Firefox

People providing emotional support after a trauma

So often while driving home from work we switch on the radio to listen to the traffic report, planning our journey home around traffic build up caused by serious accidents on the roads. Maybe it’s a three-car pile-up on the freeway, or a pedestrian has been hit whilst crossing an intersection, when we hear the news our first thought is often “the trip home is going to take longer tonight”. But how often do you spare a thought for the people involved in the accident? Who are they? How will their lives change as a result of this day? What is life like for them and their families post-accident?

Social workers at each point in the continuum of care following a traumatic incident are in a unique position to learn about the catastrophic ripple effect that these events can have on people’s lives, and the lives of people close to them. Social workers in acute hospital care support families during the time of shock, disbelief and high emotional stress. Social workers in rehabilitation services support people to adjust to a new life, one that may require them to adapt to living with a disability, and they support family members as they transition into the new role of carer. Beyond the hospital system, social workers in counselling services assist people to cope emotionally with their traumatic memories of the event and the flow on impacts on their families, relationships and all aspects of their lives.

As a social worker in a law firm, my role is to support people who are going through the legal system. Along with those who’ve been involved in motor vehicle accidents, I speak to people who have had injuries at work, others who have contracted Mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure, and some who have had an unexpected and catastrophic outcome from medical care.

People turn to the law for a range of reasons, to pay for care they may need as a result of their injury; to seek justice for what has happened to them; or to find acknowledgement for their suffering, but a legal remedy is often only one part of their healing journey. My clients have often had their worlds turned upside down through an accident, injury or illness and my role is to understand the impact that these events have had on their lives to best assist them. Emotional distress, financial difficulty, and difficulties managing at home and in the community are a common result of the trauma they have faced. In turn, these issues and the pressures it places on families can have an enormous impact on relationships.

Loss is the issue that transcends through all of our clients’ lives, and the lives of those closest to them. For many, this extends far beyond financial losses to include things like losing the ability to do many of the things that once brought them joy, which often brings increased social isolation and emotional distress. They may struggle to do many of the activities we take for granted at home, and these tasks can then fall to others in the family or household. After an injury or illness many people may lose their ability to work and may have limited mobility. This can impact friendships and their ability to socialise, making their world become much narrower, spending most of their time at home and dependent on their partner to provide them with care. At times, this drastic shift in family dynamics and roles within the family can lead to family breakdown because relationships that were once mutual and reciprocal can sometimes become dependent and strained.

The Social Work Service at Slater and Gordon aims to support people and their families who are in the midst of this loss. We aim to begin by connecting people with counselling, support and connection to their community. We encourage people to take small steps as they work to rebuild their lives. We are often struck by the resilience of our clients and their families. The way they’re able to work through so many of the obstacles they face and adjust to their ‘new normal’. Whilst strain is often felt on family relationships, many not only survive but thrive as they grow closer and bond through adversity. Each day there are many Australians who are navigating this challenging path, for some, their lives may never be the same. Adjustment, and the creation of a new life, is often best tackled with support. Social Workers, Psychologists, GPs, Community Services, and a range of other supports can be accessed to take these steps alongside both the individual and their family members. Reaching out is often the first step.

If you need support, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

The contents of this blog post are considered accurate as at the date of publication. However the applicable laws may be subject to change, thereby affecting the accuracy of the article. The information contained in this blog post is of a general nature only and is not specific to anyone’s personal circumstances. Please seek legal advice before acting on any of the information contained in this post.

Thank you for your feedback.

We're here to help. Make a legal enquiry now.

If you have a question, want some more information or would just like to speak to someone, make an enquiry now and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

Call us on 1800 444 141

Blog posts about "Social Work"

Social Work
The far-reaching impacts of injury on people and their families

So often while driving home from work we switch on the radio to listen to the traffic report, planning our journey home around traffic build up caused by serious accidents on the roads. Maybe it’s a three-car pile-up on the freeway, or a pedestrian has been hit whilst crossing an intersection, when we hear the news our first thought is often “the trip home is going to take longer tonight”. But how often do you spare a thought for the people involved in the accident? Who are they? How will their lives change as a result of this day? What is life like for them and their families post-accident? Social workers at each point in the continuum of care following a traumatic incident are in a...

People providing emotional support after a trauma
Social Work
The mental health impacts of injury and illness

Many people are surprised when I tell them I’m a social worker at Slater and Gordon Lawyers. “What’s a social worker doing at a law firm?” is one of the common questions I get asked. But once I explain my role to people, the next question is usually “why don’t all firms offer social work services?" I was a hospital social worker for 21 years before starting at Slater and Gordon in 2009, my whole career, therefore, has been focused on assisting people who are injured or ill. In the acute and rehabilitation hospitals where I used to work, I assisted seriously injured patients on a wide range of services, from helping with their financial problems, lodging a claim for TAC,...

Mental health and injury
Social Work
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of our Social Work Services

2019 is a significant year for Slater and Gordon’s Social Work Service as it marks the 10 year anniversary of its establishment. Slater and Gordon was the first, and now the only, law firm to offer a free Social Work service of this kind to its clients. This makes me reflect on my experience when I started my legal career as a junior lawyer at Slater and Gordon in 2001. It did not take long to realise that the challenges my clients and their families were facing were not just related to their legal issue. There are many other issues people have to face while dealing with legal issues, and flow on effects often include; I, as did my colleagues, tried to do my best to assist my clients...

Sw Team Preferred Photo Img 3842 Cropped